PLANS are being drawn up for up to 40,000 students to return to York in September - as universities and colleges aim to return to normal face-to-face teaching.

And measures to control an outbreak of coronavirus in the city’s student population are being planned - as health bosses acknowledged residents may feel anxious about people coming to the city from all over the country and the world.

But York could also benefit from the universities and colleges providing more testing services - and research into coronavirus and the impact of the lockdown - a council meeting heard.

Charlie Jeffery, vice chancellor at the University of York, told the York Outbreak Advisory Board he expects 40,000 students to return to the city’s two universities and colleges in September.

He said: “Students coming from different places to live [in York] and students travelling into the city from day to day, each bring with them risks that we and the four institutions are very keen to help manage.

“We are putting together mitigations to make our campuses as Covid-secure as possible.”

He said testing facilities will be crucial to rapidly trace contacts, isolate students and contain an outbreak as fast as possible.

Sharon Stoltz, the City of York Council’s public health director, welcomed efforts to plan ahead and reassure residents.

She said: “We’re really looking at what we can do not only to support the students, but also to give residents the confidence that despite having students arrive in the city from all corners of the country, we’ve got the right mechanisms in place around safety.”

The largest minority ethnic group in York is Chinese - in part due to the large number of international students, a report written for the Outbreak Board says.

Cllr Carol Runciman added: “I think the arrival of students from all over the country and all over the world could raise some very tricky issues with public relations, but I also think that the universities can contribute very positively.

“Everybody’s been very concerned about the densities of population in the colleges and the universities and the public knowing that we are looking at it as a separate issue, and very carefully, might be reassuring to them.”

Prof Jeffery said about 200 academics at the university are researching coronavirus - in topics including the impact on mental health and oxygen quality testing.

The universities and colleges have planned for social distancing and hygiene measures.

And the University of York will help international students who need to self-isolate upon arrival with accommodation, food and shopping.

York St John University has been approached for a comment.